But they didn't talk politics. Slavin says he became attuned to current events in 11th grade after hearing about JFK's assassination during study hall and watching the ensuing television coverage. At the University of Florida, he graduated with a double major in political science and journalism before marrying into the garment industry. But his true political awakening didn't arrive until a full 12 years later, during a 1985 trip to Israel. Slavin visited Jerusalem, offered prayers at the Western Wall, and hoofed it all the way up to the centuries-old fortress of Masada. He toured the Lebanese border and drove through Golan Heights, where he saw the burnt-out shells of Syrian tanks left over from one of Israel's wars.
What struck him the most was the proximity of Arab nations. "When you see how close everything is...," Slavin begins, then trails off. He's finished with his muffin and picks up his butter knife to help expound his belief that the last thing Israel should do is give up one inch of hard-won land. "If you know people are sworn to wipe you out, and they live over there," he points the knife out the plate-glass window toward Gulfstream Park, "and you own the parking lot here," he swings the tip of the knife to the diner's adjacent lot, "why would you let them live here? Why would Israel give back such strategic strips of land?
"I'm not a very religious person, but it sure says in the Bible that God gave that land to the Jews. And you know what? Even if He didn't, they won it through defensive wars," he continues. "Israel can give back the land it won in wars the day after the United States gives back Southern California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona to the Mexicans."
Slavin's guerrilla career in letters began in the early '70s. Living in Kendall at the time, he read about a local Christian organization sponsoring a business fair. "You know, come and meet your Christian plumber, insurance agent, this, that, and the other thing," he remembers. "I was offended. I thought that was absolutely obnoxious. I would never do business with someone because of their religion.
"I think I wrote, "Are you not good enough at your profession that you have to use your Christianity?' Slavin recalls. He's good at quoting himself and can recite lines he's written as recently as last week or as long as decades ago. He's saved only a few hundred letters from what would most likely tally up to thousands, and after he clips one from a newspaper, he dates it and throws it inside an old satchel. Slavin says he's never looked at the letters he's kept, and he laments the ones he hasn't.
"It's too bad I didn't keep them over the years. I could really have written a great book: Hate Mail from Harv."
... The Miami Herald has remained at the ebb of lowly journalistic aesthetics because they have stupidly refused to publish my letters for more than four years. (Just because I have called them rotten bastards, liars, phonies, and anti-Semitic Jew-haters in my mail. You'd think they would get over it. Nah!)
-- February 19, 1998, Miami New Times
For years, Slavin has been at war with The Herald.
"I hate them like poison," says Slavin. According to him, The Herald relishes keeping ethnic groups segregated and panders to power brokers and developers interested in making a fast and easy buck. And, claims Slavin, The Herald is blatantly prejudiced against Jews.
"Placement has a lot to do with bias," he explains, referring to what page a story is assigned. "When a Jew kills a Palestinian, it's on page one. When a Palestinian kills a Jew, it's on page seventeen next to the Fedco ad for Tampax."
So why does he include the daily in his morning reading? "I think it's important to know your enemy, and I think The Herald is the enemy of the people," he explains. He's also pissed off because he claims that The Herald has published only one letter from him in ten years. Yet a search through Herald archives shows that, until 1999, at least a few Slavin letters were published each year since 1984 in the paper's Neighbors, Sports, Broward, or Editorial section, as well as its now defunct Sunday magazine, Tropic.